Four years ago, Raha Moharrak made history when she became the first Saudi woman to conquer Mount Everest.
Now ready to tackle another feat, Moharrak is working tirelessly to promote women’s participation in sports and change the laws that currently prevent widespread participation. Her campaign focuses on the health aspects of sports, as lack of exercise is correlated with a number of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, depression and more.
“I’m really trying to change this mentality that sports is just for boys, sports is just football and medals and women,” Moharrak told CNNMoney. “It’s not that. Which parent would not want their child to grow up healthy?”
Moharrak is used to facing down a challenge and coming out victorious on the other side. Her father, first hesitant to support her climbing dreams, now funds most of her expeditions. She feels compelled to get others to push barriers because she understands the privilege she has to conquer such feats.
“The reason why I started climbing was because I didn’t want to end up where I was expected to. It meant that I did something that was different and I’m pushing mentalities. You won’t get criticized if you fit in the mold. You only get criticized when you’re different.”
A Shift in Fitness: Women Conquer Social and Political Change
In February, the Saudi government announced that authorities will begin granting licenses for women’s gyms to move in across Saudi Arabia.
Moharrak isn’t alone in her sports advocacy. Princess Reema bint Bandar was appointed as vice president for women’s affairs at the General Authority of Sports, and has been active in opening doors for women to live a healthy lifestyle.
The need is recognized under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan as well, which underscores the need for a healthy and balanced lifestyle for maintenance of a high quality life.
Read the full story on CNN.